itabi 板碑
KEY WORD : architecture / general terms
One type of pagoda or stupa, touba 塔婆, in the form of a flat stone stele that became prevalent in the early 13c and was widely used until the early 17c, when it disappeared altogether. Two grooves are cut between the body of the stupa and the pyramidal form at the top. The earliest examples were 40-60cm wide, tapering somewhat toward the top of the face just below the grooved section. Later, they were much narrower, about 20cm or less. Some itabi were believed to be as high as 5m, but it is more likely that most were about 2m. Their origin is obscure and no clear reason for their abrupt cessation is known. They were erected as memorials and as a visible means to draw those who strayed from the "true path" of Buddhism back into the fold. Sanskrit, or Buddhist images were carved into the upper part of the body, while Buddhist texts, names and dates were cut in the lower part. Some inscriptions seem to convey prayers. The names *Amida 阿弥陀 who ruled over the Western Paridise, *Shaka 釈迦 or *Dainichi 大日 of Esoteric Buddhism mikkyou 密教, appear many times. A preponderance of itabi exists in the Kantou 関東 region, and many are made of a green or greenish-blue stone from Chichibu 秩父 in Saitama prefecture. Examples: Oonuma Kouen 大沼公園 (1227) ; Kannonji 観音寺 (1233), both in Saitama prefecture; Shoufukuji 正福寺 (1248) in Tokyo.

Shoufukuji 正福寺 (Tokyo)

*gorintou 五輪塔

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